Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Meet Ezra Jonah Jacobs, author of 'The Tale of Valiant Hero Kenta'

Please welcome Ezra Jonah Jacobs to the blog today. Those of you who love martial arts, video games, and wuxia are in for a real treat!

What was the inspiration behind 'The Tale of Valiant Hero Kenta'?
I wanted to create something new in the literature world. I’ve really only been seeing the same format romance stories for a while now. I wanted to create a novel with more of a masculine edge (though romantic, since I’m both a fighter and a lover). In the past I’ve noticed that a good 70% of young adult novels have a target audience of females, and usually deals with issues from a strictly feminine perspective. I wanted something like a boy book, though fun for both males and females. It’s not that girl books are bad, but it’s like the world forgot that men need something we can relate to as well. Also I wanted to create something new in the sense of genre. I think it should be really fun for the fans. How the action in depicted should really excite people.
Tell us more about your hero.
He’s pretty unique in the sense of him being a light hearted guy with a pretty laid back personality, yet firmly determined in going after his goals. His strong ambition is a driving point throughout the story. He later discovers different manifestations of power within himself that helps him further his goals. His strength is another driving point. Though he is extremely powerful, there are many more powerful people in the world he inhabits. As a result, we find that he develops stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally as a young man trying to find himself in the world.
Which scene is your favorite?
Definitely the final battle! But I also loved the part when he first encounters Hana and the rest of his friends for the rest of the story. Also his relationship with both of his parents. I think that’s important for young characters.
Are any of the characters based on real people throughout history?
A couple of the characters are based on real life people in the annals of history. I’ve decided to keep the real names of the characters because of that. Also the fighting is firmly based on things I picked up from real fighting styles. Also, the whole story is really just a metaphor, yet I’ll let the fans figure that out (:
What is your writing process?
Well, I like to get extremely in depth in my writing. Sometimes I feel as if I’m just a inhabitant in the world I wrote and am just hearing two characters speak. Or even like a spirit watching two characters interact in this physical world. Because the main characters has a little of myself in him (as well as several other people I greatly respect), I think I can easily see the world as he sees it. Though, sometimes, he does stuff that I wouldn’t or says things that I wouldn’t think to say. As for the other characters, they are like beings I have known since they were children, so it’s easy to show their personalities and know what they would say or do in certain situations and circumstances.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I first got the idea to write when I was in the first grade. My teacher was reading the class a book, and I thought how interesting it would be to create a world and create interesting characters to inhabit it. How it would be to send stuff against him, not out of spite, but to strengthen them and further develop their characters and power. How fun it would be to see their lives unfold as well (I know, I was a deep kid…). But, I first got serious with the notion of writing while I was in college. That’s when I first made the conscious decision to become a author.
What else do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy reading (both books and comics), doing karate and wushu, working out, playing video games, drawing and taking walks.
Thank you so much for your time!

Author Bio

Ezra Jonah Jacobs was born in 1988 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised in the suburbs 45 minutes outside of Atlanta by his father and mother, having one older brother. Growing up in a small country town, there was plenty of farmland and open plains to play and run around, a good place to let his young imagination run wild. When not outside, he was usually reading, drawing pictures, or playing video games. He has also had an interest in martial arts since the age of 6, first gaining an interest after watching a Bruce Lee documentary and seeing a movie by the name of Street Fighter. He started emulating the techniques he saw in these movies. It was also around this age he became interested into becoming an author after hearing his teacher read a book to his class. He would be influenced more by other books throughout grade school either by going to the library or during in-school readings.

In Jr. High School, Jacobs developed an interest in many new different mediums, including manga (Japanese comics) and ancient world literature, such as Don Quixote and Beowulf (already having some world literature in his background the form of Gulliver’s Travels and Aesop’s Fables while in Elementary school). He also first came across ancient stories of kung fu masters with enough strength to slay lions, enough speed to out run a cheetah, and being able to lighten their bodies enough to walk on egg shells. He found these stories rather fascinating and would spend time reading them, while at the same time trying to find more.

During his time in high school, world literature reads had expanded. He also began reading more of a genre called Wuxia (martial arts fiction), in particular Jin Yong, and was greatly fascinated by the scope of the stories as well the detailed battle sequences. To him it was as if he were watching a kung fu movie unfold before his very eyes. He thought this genre was rather interesting, especially since it influenced all of his other favorite mediums as well, even theater.

At college, Jacobs finally made the conscious decision to become an author. It was during this time, after class that he would spend time typing up many different stories. Many being one-shots (one long chapter), while others became full length novels. He began trying different genres and styles out until reading Jin Yong’s “A Smiling, Proud Wanderer”. He then decided to give wuxia a try and began working on a novel of such style. He had developed many early versions of his current stories, eventually editing and reforming them into what they are now. He also began reading many other novels around this time, such as Musashi, even more ancient world literature such as Canterbury Tales, The Divine Comedy, and The Faerie Queen, as well as many other things that would later influence his works.

Jacobs graduated from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia with a Major in Literature and a Minor in Arts. He also studied karate while on campus during these years. As he wrote, he always had in mind to create stories that would give his readers the impressions they were almost watching a movie or a TV show, something interesting and exciting yet bearing the allure of a novel. Jacobs currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, he is usually reading from his extensive book collection, taking walks in the city, and training.


Date Published:
March 22, 2013

Synopsis: Kenta Takeyama is a 16 year old martial artist who possesses superhuman strength and abilities and the Takeyama -ryuu fighting art. He desires to become the most powerful shogun on the Nikkoujima (Sun Light Islands), as there are much more powerful men in the world. He lives with his father Tesshin, who trained him in the martial arts, and his mother Amaya, who is the former princess of a royal family and master fighter; his little sister Mana, who wants to become a famous play actress and open her own production studio, as well as his pet bear Kumomori, whom he had since he was 4. Kenta finds that it’s time to follow his dreams of becoming a great and powerful shogun (using his power to protect people and build more homes and villages, help the poor and starving, rather than just for pomp and circumstance. He wants the people to live in peace and prosperity with no fear, as the world is already entering another age of war. Essentially, he wants to change the country). And so, with his parents’ permission, he decides to travel to Senkyou to enlist in the military and become a true samurai warrior. He feels confident that the can do so after going through many trials and travels through his childhood, and training under the tutelage of his father in his family’s martial arts styles.

During the first part of the novel, after a little love fiasco with his childhood friend Yumine who has a crush on him and sparring with some buddies, he travels the lush and vibrant island and helps many different people out. As Kenta reaches Senkyou, he meets new rivals and friends, such as Natsumi, a new love interest and Hayate, a mysterious ninja who wants to raise up his own organization of ninja mercenaries. During basic training, he discovers that the capital is being attacked by powerful youkai. The powerful beasts appear and disappear in a flash, even the temple priests are having trouble. Does the Great Tengu King of the Gogonji mountain territory know anything about these attacks? Do our heroes stand a chance against these swift and powerful foes? What is the reasoning behind all of this carnage?

Read an excerpt:

After the ceremony was over, Kenta decided to return to his room to get some sleep before leaving on his trip in the next few hours. His father polished his old tachi for him as well as a wakizashi. Thought he had the blade Kunitoki Santenmaru (Perfect Destruction from Heaven) since he was very young, it was still in perfect shape. Its blade was sharp enough to cut through mountains in a true master’s hands. Its dark bluish-gray metal shimmered as it caught the light with pearlite bits made into it. He was slightly heavier than an average tachi, though felt as light as the ether in the hands of Kenta. Its grip was navy with a bright red interior, and thick to the grip though not too thick. The top of the sheath was wrapped with thick, bright red string that left two tassels hanging off.

Tesshin noticed his son’s gazing over the exquisite and beautiful blade. He was completely entranced.

“No matter how much I look at this sword” said Kenta “I’m always amazed at how nice it is. So, I really don’t mind using it. I feel like I’m becoming one with it every time I use it…”

“Kenta, not only did I teach you how to fight” said Tesshin “But also how to be a man and to be a hero. Never give up on your goals or go back on your word. Protect those you love and fight for what you believe in. Remember to give them everything in the military. As your dad, I know that you will quickly rise up the ranks in no time at all. And when you become Shogun, be sure to show your authority to the people as a great and honorable leader. Establish your name so that people hundreds of years from now will remember you and your exploits as a legendary hero and warrior. Never let them forget you…”

Kenta smiled lovingly “I won’t. Thanks Dad…”

“And show us around the mansion you get too” he continued as he sat back as his legs remained crossed, the weight of his bodies resting on his palms “I know we would all want to see it. Who knows maybe you and Yumine-chan can give us some grand children”

Kenta felt as if his heart cracked a little as his eyes shot open. At that moment, Tesshin knew something was wrong. Kenta wanted to explain how drunk he was, but was already too embarrassed as it was. Tesshin thought “He’ll be able to talk about it when he’s ready”

Tesshin then reminded Kenta “Remember to continue your kata and training Kenta. There are still some things that I have to teach you when you return, the special seimei tanren kata (life energy forging forms) from the special scroll. But you need to get some more experience first. I don’t think that a kid your age should have such great and uncontrolled power as his father”

Kenta laughed “What? Are you scared that I will surpass you Pops?”

No way!” he replied “I just don’t think that a kid your age should have such monstrous power. If you can control it perfectly, you can destroy everything and anything around you just by bad feelings alone. You are already super strong for your age, so go out there and give them hell”

“Yeah, okay sure” Kenta replied in a nonchalant tone.

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” 

“Face it, you just don’t want me getting stronger than you” Kenta said in a light hearted manner.

No way! Like I said, I want you to get a better understanding of your power before you take this next step is all. After this training, you power will jump by leaps and bounds, so much that it can destroy you if you can’t control it properly, or even innocent bystanders is all” his father thought to use an example “Alright, it’s like…remember that time when I first got back home and I had to get back into shape…”

Kenta had a flashback of when he was five and a colossal dome of energy destroying several islands just over the horizon. The light completely eclipsed the islands as it devoured them whole. A rushing wind blew towards the islands, as great whirlpools and hurricanes were being born in the sea around them and rose to the sinister clouded heavens raging with lightning and rumbling with thunder. Massive echoes of explosive sounds shook the area for many miles. 

RRRRAAAAAUUUUGGHHH!!!!!!!!!” In the heart of them was a shirtless man with long dark hair that was dancing behind him, roaring madly as if trying to keep himself under control. His eyes were white with energy, his face looked like a mad toushin (warring god). The titanic mass of ki turned red, then purple, then blue, yellow, green and back to start the cycle. The beasts of the fields went crazy with fear as the fled the scene, the birds decided to fly south early. 

That day, even the many kami of heaven and earth took notice of Tesshin’s strength.

“Oh yeah, that’s right! I remember! That was pretty crazy!” said Kenta “Alright, I’ll wait a little while longer then Pops”

“Good!” he said with a relieved smile “I would hate to send a human bomb to Senkyou, they would be pretty pissed. Since you’re new to the military, they won’t give you any serious missions at first. You can build your way up the ladder first with the experience and training the military gives you and then when you come back on leave, I’ll teach you the final kata of our style”

“Alright, sounds good to me if you really don’t think I’m ready”

“Plus, if you think that was scary, you should see your mother, her power is almost as strong as my own thanks to the training I gave her a while back. But she’s at least twice as mean as me”

Kenta chuckled and then began laughing hard with his father.

D-don’t tell your mother I said that” Tesshin said as he continued chuckling “She hates it when I tease her”

His mother Amaya sneezed twice, thinking she was catching a cold. She then continued to make some extra snacks and place them in a furoshiki wrapping cloth for her son, which was already literally beginning to pile to the ceiling. Her eyes slowly began to water as she had flashbacks of Kenta as he was five and running around the island. She then began to break down into tears. Tesshin walked into the kitchen and consoled her, wrapping his arms around his wife and telling her that everything would be alright. Though she was usually a strong woman emotionally, she could not bear the thought of the child she held in her womb leaving to live his own life and fight life or death battles.

Buy links: Paperback \ Kindle

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